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Details of Belarus-Russia mutual visa recognition agreement revealed

Society 11.04.2019 | 13:25

MINSK, 11 April (BelTA) – Representatives of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have revealed details of the progress in preparing and the actual content of the Belarusian-Russian agreement on mutual recognition of visas. The ministry prepared this information as an answer to the questions submitted ahead of the Big Conversation with the President, BelTA has learned.

The agreement relies on full mutual recognition of visas (temporary stay permits and residence permits). It allows fully opening the Belarusian-Russian border to foreigners and removing the barriers standing in the way of those willing to reach Russia via Belarus. At the same time the Russian side will keep control functions in its own territory near the border. Russia's principled stance on the matter is reflected by the agreement. In line with the agreement the sides can take measures to check how foreign citizens and stateless persons observe rules of entry, exit, and transit travel or the rules of stay in their territories in line with the national legislation.

Belarusian and Russian government agencies are now taking care of preparations in a number of cooperation areas the draft agreement specifies. In particular, channels to share information about border crossing and about visas are being established. A presidential decree has been drafted in conclusion of the agreement.

BelTA reported earlier that Belarus and Russia were supposed to sign the mutual visa recognition agreement at a session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Belarus and Russia in Brest in December 2018. However, Belarus had failed to complete all the necessary intrastate procedures in time for the session.

Representatives of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also explained whether Belarus citizens can have dual citizenship or not. The matter was raised in questions submitted ahead of the Big Conversation with the President.

Belarusian laws lack the definition of dual citizenship. Yet the citizenship law does not require the termination of Belarusian citizenship once a Belarusian citizen acquires a foreign citizenship. Rights of Belarusian citizens, who have some other citizenship, cannot be restricted on these grounds. Such citizens can neither dodge the responsibilities inherent in their Republic of Belarus citizenship.

Matters of citizenship acquisition and loss are regulated by national laws of the member states of the Union State of Belarus and Russia unless a dedicated Union State legal act is available. “Nobody can become a Union State citizen without acquiring the citizenship of a member state,” the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs underlined.

Some questions submitted ahead of the Big Conversation with the President touched upon citizens' rights in the Union State of Belarus and Russia. The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned considerable accomplishments in ensuring equal rights of citizens of Belarus and Russia in all spheres, primarily economy, acquisition of education and medical aid, employment, and the choice of places to stay and live.

At the same time a number of problems remains due to differences in the social and political systems, the regulatory frameworks, and, in certain cases, the inadvisability of giving equal rights to the citizens, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted. The relevant government agencies of Belarus and Russia are working to address these problems. If need be, some problems are submitted for consideration of supreme bodies of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. A special interagency working group has been established within the framework of the Standing Committee of the Union State in order to look into problems relating to the observance of equal rights of Belarusian and Russian citizens.

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